What is content marketing and why does your organisation need it?

“Content” and “marketing” are two terms which you hear bandied about but are not very clear. What is “content”, what is “marketing”, and what does putting them together mean? 

You’re focused on trying to sell your product or service, persuade people to support your organisation, or attract participants. What has content marketing got to do with that? This article will explain what content marketing is all about and why it is useful to your organisation.

What is content?

Content can be any of these things: 

  • Words
  • Pictures
  • Video
  • Audio

These can be used to create articles on your website (often called a blog), social media posts, email marketing, presentations, podcasts, media coverage, and a whole lot more. Most businesses only create one or two types of content, don’t feel you have to do everything on the list. 

Photos around a polaroid camera. Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash.

What is content marketing?

Content marketing is any content which helps raise awareness of you, helps potential customers or supporters decide whether you’re for them, and helps people to take action. It is part of your overall sales and marketing strategy.

For example, if you are a startup, create a content marketing strategy that introduces you, your team (if you have one), your product or service, and the problem you solve.

If you are a charity, use it to attract donations, achieve your organisation’s aims, and encourage corporate sponsorship.

If you are established, use it to show the impact of your products or services and build a community of fans.

An advantage of using content marketing is that it is organic, meaning you don’t need to pay for advertising unless you want to. Create content that appeals to your audience, put it in the right places, and you can get your message across for a very low cost. (It isn’t free. You need to invest your time or pay someone else to use their skills and time to create content for you.)

Content marketing is a long game. A few blog posts or an occasional social media post won’t bring you instant results. But don’t let that discourage you. Come up with a form of content and a timetable you find manageable. There are lots of ways of making your content work hard for you so you’re not creating lots of things all the time.

You are raising awareness of your organisation and what you do, engaging with members of the public, getting them to think of you when they need something you offer or when they are thinking about a cause to support.

How does content marketing work?

Begin by thinking about who your audience is. You might have more than one, but get a clear picture of who one typical person you would like to attract is like.

  • What are they interested in?
  • What are their views in relation to what you do?
  • What do they want to know about your products or services?
  • Are they looking for inspiration or education or a bit of both?
  • Where do they get their information from?

Keep asking questions and create a profile of their habits. This will help you decide what your content will be, what form it will take, and where you will put it.

For example, you could decide to do a series of explainer videos which you share on Youtube, Facebook and Instagram.

Or you could choose to write in-depth articles on your company blog and share them on LinkedIn.

You might share photos of your products on Instagram.

Perhaps you will concentrate on building an email list and providing subscribers with content which will appeal to them.

You’re looking for a split of 75% – 80% helpful, informative, fun, interesting content and 20%-25% which talks directly about your offering.  No-one wants to be sold at or broadcasted to. Having a mix of content enables you to engage with your audience, build a community, and get to know people. 

That doesn’t mean the majority of your content doesn’t serve a sales function, it does. But some people will be ready to buy or support you immediately, other people might take weeks or months to become a customer. Some might never buy from you but that’s the case with every organisation.

If in doubt, ask!

You can ask people about what they are interested in. If you already have customers, ask them which social media platform they prefer, or whether they enjoy reading articles, watching videos or listening to podcasts.

There are simple market research activities you can do such as creating a Typeform or using SurveyMonkey.

What does your content marketing need to do?

When you’re creating a piece of content, a post, sharing a photo, scripting a video, think about what you want it to do. Choose one aim for each piece of content.

You might want to:

  • Raise awareness
  • Showcase a product or service
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Get email sign-ups
  • Champion a cause
  • Attract a member of staff or volunteer
  • Encourage sponsorship
  • Get people to visit you
  • Just have fun

 

Only some of these involve bringing in income, but all are useful to your organisation.

Every piece of content you create needs to do at least one of three things for it to be engaging to your audience:

  • Inform
  • Educate
  • Entertain

It can do one, two, or all three of these things.

For example, if you ran a pet rescue centre, you could share a photo of a rabbit and say: this is Binkie, she is 2 years old and one of our rabbits looking for a new home. That’s informative.

You could go on to say, she is a dwarf lop which means she will make a good pet. She needs x amount of space, to be looked after like this, and so on. That’s educational. 

Then, here is a photo of her with a flower on her head. That’s entertainment.

(Yes, they’re two different rabbits and probably not dwarf lops. Please don’t @ me!)

Think about who your content is for. The rabbit example would appeal to someone looking for a new pet but it’s not going to be for everyone. Trying to create content that appeals to everyone means you end up being bland so don’t worry that if I’m a lion tamer, I won’t be interested in rabbits. That’s ok.

What does the person you are creating content for, want to know about? This might differ from what you think they should be interested in. You are looking for the point where your interests, knowledge, and approach, intersects with theirs. What’s their motivation for coming to your website or for following you on social media, or joining your mailing list?

Create content which showcases your organisation

You can create content about pretty much anything and be as imaginative in its delivery as you like. There are very few rules:

  • Focus on who you want to read, watch or listen to what you are creating,
  • Ensure you inform, educate and entertain,
  • Use your organisation’s branding and tone of voice guidelines so your content is instantly recognisable,
  • Make a plan so you know what you are creating, when and why.

Your content marketing will build awareness of your organisation, build community engagement, get email sign ups, and bring website traffic.

Give your blog a headstart

Blogging is a great form of content marketing for your organisation to use. It enables you to share different aspects of what you do and can be prepared in advance. Your articles can be shared in lots of ways so you’re not trying to come up with new types of content for your social media or any in-house communications. 

If you would like some free help to get started with your blog, download my business blog planner

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